How to get (and stay) organised
Organisation is key to academic productivity.
- At the start of a project, invest the time to set up a fool-proof filing system. Taking the time now will save you hours of frustration hunting for documents later.
- Save documents and emails in designated folders with memorable names e.g. ‘Posters’, ‘Presentations’, ‘Grants’, ‘Ethics applications’, ‘CV’, ‘Manuscripts’, ‘Papers to read’. This will allow you to quickly locate and recycle previous material or to use it as a starting point.
- Add the date, reference and version number to the footer of documents. Save different versions of documents separately – this will allow you to track the changes which have been made to documents and to consult earlier versions if required.
- Organise your lab-book with a contents page and page numbers. Consider how to group entries (by date order or by project?) Update your lab-book daily: treat it like a diary. Things which seem obvious now will not seem so obvious many years later (when you may need to re-consult it).
- Save your work! Your University may offer the opportunity to backup work to a remote server/Cloud. Other options include backing up to ‘time machine function’ (Macs), a secondary hard drive or USB stick. Get advice from your IT team about which system is safest.
- Respond to emails in a timely fashion. Keep a note of the replies which you are expecting and set a deadline for chasing.
- Make a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly plan/agenda/Gantt chart. This allows you to remain focused and gives you something to measure your progress against.
- Try keeping a ‘to-do’ list or ‘bullet journal’(for information see http://bulletjournal.com).Check off items once they have been completed and update the list. Pay attention to items which have remained on the list for some time – what’s the barrier to completing them?